Protect yourself from scumware infection via USB drives/CDs/etc. with Panda USB Vaccine

One major drawback to external media is the AutoRun feature. On the surface this feature is not too bad – as soon as you put in your external media (USB drive, CD, etc.) whatever program is on there is executed automatically so you don’t have to do anything. The problem is many evil people take advantage of AUTORUN.INF to automatically spread malware and malicious content to unsuspecting users. So to fight this Panda USB Vaccine was created:

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Panda USB Vaccine’s solution to the AutoRun problem is two-pronged:

  1. Panda USB Vaccine allows you to “vaccinate” your whole computer so the AutoRun feature is completely disabled. In other words, no matter what USB/CD/DVD/etc. is plugged in/inserted into your computer, nothing will be able to auto-execute from it.
  2. Panda USB Vaccine also allows you to vaccinate each individual USB drive. Once you vaccinate the USB drive, AutoRun will be disabled. ***Currently vaccinating NTFS formatted USB works but is “experimental”. Vaccinating FAT/FAT32 USBs is better supported.

If you choose to vaccinate your whole computer you only need to do it once and never run Panda USB Vaccine again. If you choose to vaccinate your USB drives, you will need to run Panda USB Vaccine everytime you have a drive you want to vaccinate (you may also keep Panda USB Vaccine running in the background and it will detect whenever a new USB drive is plugged into your computer).

One thing you should know, though, is if you do vaccinate a USB drive, the only way to “unvaccinate” it (re-enable AutoRun) is to format the drive. However if you vaccinate your whole computer you can “unvaccinate” it (re-enable AutoRun) via Panda USB Vaccine – the “Vaccinate computer” button turns into “Remove vaccination” after you vaccinate the computer.

Now of course there is one down side to all this: whenever you use a USB/CD/DVD/etc. you will need to open My Computer and manually run the software on it. However I believe that is something worth giving up to take another stab at malware. Therefore I believe Panda USB Vaccine is a simple, easy to use, handy program which can save a lot of people from infection via USB drives and other external media. You can download Panda USB Vaccine from the following link:

Panda USB Vaccine works on Windows 2000/XP/Server 2008/Vista/7

Download Panda USB Vaccine

***Extra Note***

For those dotTechies who frequent Giveaway of the Day: just yesterday a program called USB Threat Defender was given out (not a keeper in my opinion if anyone was wondering). In the comments for that program someone posted a link to a WindowsSecrets article which told you how to disable AutoRun. Panda USB Vaccine does the exact same thing except Panda USB Vaccine is much more user friendly!

[via Free PC Security]

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8 comments

  1. Giovanni

    These free apps (especially the first one) look to me more comprehensive and more suitable than PANDA USB Vaccine for this kind of protection:

    http://www.joshcellsoftwares.com/2011/12/autorun-antivirus-pro-professional.html

    http://www.softpedia.com/get/Security/Security-Related/Flash-Drive-Protector.shtml

    http://www.softpedia.com/progScreenshots/USB-Security-Utilities-Screenshot-166075.html

    Just let’s give it a whirl and let me know your feedback about their performance!!

    Enjoy!

  2. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    @giovanni (Ashraf’s fan): USB Thread Defender is useless because it doesn’t work properly. From the review you linked me:

    It picked up as suspicious every file we set to be run automatically in an autorun.inf file. Despite the fact that the removable drive also contained a generous set of rootkits and keyloggers, they were not interpreted as suspicious.

    As for the a-squared Emergency USB Stick… it is good to have but it is probably unnecessary for most people because most people already have antiviruses/antispyware protection on their computer. Plus this “Emergency USB Stick” does not provide any extra protection for USB affiliated scumware then the desktop version of the software.

  3. giovanni (Ashraf's fan)

    OK!!

    But why is in your view USB Thread Defender useless??

    As I already said on SOFTPEDIA both users and the EDITOR have rated this program as GOOD!!

    http://www.softpedia.com/reviews/windows/USB-Threat-Defender-Review-117122.shtml

    The Good

    USB Threat Defender is easy to install and can be handled with no difficulty by any sort of user. It can scan both local drives, as well as removable media.

    The Heal System tab shelters the appealing promises of restoring the system to its functionality prior to the damage caused by an infection. The options are varied and generally consist of making the main functions of the system work again.

    The Bad

    It picked up as suspicious every file we set to be run automatically in an autorun.inf file. Despite the fact that the removable drive also contained a generous set of rootkits and keyloggers, they were not interpreted as suspicious.

    The only way it protected us from the data marked as suspicious was by popping up an alert. Once we clicked to run the file, everything worked without any problem.

    The Truth

    USB Threat Defender is not yet ready for the $39.95 price or the plethora of pieces of malware that can infect computer systems directly from a removable drive, when inserted. Currently, it is at version 1.0 and looks like a promising project. At the moment, it is capable of alerting the user of executables being launched via autorun.inf and it’s a good start.

    As more features are being added, you can use the demo version just for the alerts.

    Anyway, another nice application to clean an infected computer is this:

    http://www.emsisoft.com/en/software/stick/

    A-SQUARED EMERGENCY USB STICK contains two great programs (a-squared Free & A-squared Commandline Scanner) which can be used to scan and clean an infected computer quickly and easily through a PENDRIVE without installing any software in your PC.

    Unpack the zip to a USB Stick to make an easy to use scanning and removal tool.

    Please note that this file is kept always up to date with the latest program and signature files.

    FREE DOWNLOAD here (53 MB):

    http://www.emsisoft.com/en/software/download/

    For Windows XP, 2003/2008 Server and Vista, limited functionality on x64,

    Enjoy!!

  4. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    @giovanni (Ashraf’s fan): USB Thread Defender is pretty muce useless.

    I stopped with GOTD software because I don’t have the time to stay up in the middle of the night writing reviews anymore. If GOTD will give me access to the software 24 hours before hand I can review them and publish the review as soon as the giveaway has started.

  5. giovanni (Ashraf's fan)

    Hi man!!

    It’s Giovanni from Italy!!

    This program looks good at first glance, but I have just installed this program given as GAOTD a couple of days ago:

    http://www.giveawayoftheday.com/usb-threat-defender/

    Did you install it??

    On Softpedia it got good reviews and ratings, but I still have to try it, so at present I don’t know which one of these two programs is better….

    By the way: why did you stop sending comments on GAOTD forum??